Around 5,000 people joined an emergency protest outside Downing Street against Britain joining the bombing of Syria, today, Saturday. The big turnout was despite the protest being called with just a few days’ notice.
Chants of, “Don’t bomb Syria” and, “David Cameron – shame on you” rang through Whitehall.
Hundreds also joined anti-war protests in towns and cities across Britain.
Sharif came to Britain from Syria about one year ago. “I know exactly what’s going on in Syria from friends still inside,” he said.
“Bombing will only kill innocent men, women and children.”
David Cameron is pushing for Britain to join the US, Russia and other imperialist powers in a new war in the Middle East.
The right claim this is necessary to “defeat Isis” after the attacks in Paris earlier this month.
But Naima from Iraq wasn’t convinced. “The war in Iraq created the terrorism in the first place,” she said. “What do they expect to happen from people after they invade?”
She added, “Every time we want to stand up they just push us back. The Egyptian dictator El Sisi wouldn’t be president if the West hadn’t supported the coup.”
The Tories and media are also using the Paris attacks to ramp up Islamophobia. Sabby Dahlu, from Stand Up to Racism was loudly cheered when she told the rally, “Muslims are not the enemy within – Islamophobia and racism are the enemy.”
Protesters managed to briefly take over the whole of Whitehall near the front of the protest.
Many people, such as Ramzi from North London, were on their first protest. “We’re just totally opposed to going into a new war,” he said. “It’s not going to help the people in Syria.”
Trade unionists also joined the protest. Unite union leader Len McCluskey sent a message of support.
The impending vote on bombing Syria is causing a crisis within the Labour Party, with many right wing MPs saying they’ll support it.
Aavash brought the Leytonstone and Wanstead Labour Party banner to the protest. “We had a talk with our MP John Cryer and he’s totally opposed to war,” Aavash said.
“We passed a motion to bring the banner and we also held a debate on Trident. Most of the members were against it.”
Right wing Labour MPs have angered grassroots supporters. “We expected the smears to come from the Tories and the media,” Aavash said. “But the right of the party would rather ally with them and attack Jeremy Corbyn.”
Diane Abbott, the shadow international development secretary, brought solidarity from herself and Jeremy Corbyn.
She told the rally, “I hope that under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership Labour MPs will do the right thing.”
A parliamentary vote on Britain joining the war could take place as early as Wednesday of next week.
Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition told the rally, “We’re here to say don’t make the same mistakes again.
“But this is just the start – we’ll be here on the eve of the vote.”
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